30 March 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 634, Identity Auxiliary Verb Forms English Syntax/re-arrangement of Words in a Sentence Tools for Developing Tone Q and A
Announcement: Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy. You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com. Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Escape from Freedom. Escape is my 25th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’m on my first editing run-through of Shape.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
- Scene input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:
- Historical extrapolation
- Technological extrapolation
- Intellectual extrapolation
Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been. It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect). Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.
One of my blog readers posed these questions. I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.
- Conflict/tension between characters
- Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
- Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
- Evolving vs static character
- Language and style
- Verbal, gesture, action
- Words employed
- Sentence length
- Type of grammar
- Field of reference or allusion
- Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
- Mannerism suggested by speech
- Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).
Moving on to 13. 13. Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
If tone is the feel of the writing, the author must start first with what tone he wants to convey.
The first method of developing tone is through scene setting–the second method is through tension and release. Let’s look at the specific tools used to create tone in tension and release (these can also be used in the scene setting). I like the list from the question—it is nearly exhaustive: diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc. Why don’t we look at each of these tools?
Syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence as tools to develop tone. What makes English so versatile and so difficult as a language are the many verb forms that allow subtle changes in the syntax and meaning of the sentences. Verb tense is only one part of concept of syntax. English has more complex forms of verb usage that are sometimes called “helper” verbs. They are most properly called auxiliary verbs. Here is a comprehensive list of auxiliary verbs.
|Auxiliary verb||Meaning contribution||Example|
|be1||copula (= linking verb)||She is the boss.|
|be2||progressive aspect||He is sleeping.|
|be3||passive voice||They were seen.|
|can1||deontic modality||I can swim.|
|can2||epistemic modality||Such things can help.|
|could1||deontic modality||I could swim.|
|could2||epistemic modality||That could help.|
|dare||epistemic modality||How dare you!|
|do||do-support/emphasis||You did not understand.|
|have1||perfect aspect||They have understood.|
|may1||deontic modality||May I stay?|
|may2||epistemic modality||That may take place.|
|might||epistemic modality||We might give it a try.|
|must1||deontic modality||You must not mock me.|
|must2||epistemic modality||It must have rained.|
|need||deontic modality||You need not water the grass.|
|ought||deontic modality||You ought to play well.|
|Shall||deontic modality||You shall not pass.|
|should1||deontic modality||You should listen.|
|should2||epistemic modality||That should help.|
|Will||epistemic modality||We will eat pie.|
|Would||epistemic modality||Nothing would accomplish that.|
If you notice we already saw some of the uses of be (is) and have (had). These auxiliary verbs are used to change the verb tense in English. They have other uses we will address.
One of the chief uses of be (is) is to create the present participle. The second example above is a present participle. The present participle may be the most used, bad usage in fiction writing. For example:
The girl is running.
The woman was swimming.
He had been screaming.
She has been cooking.
The man will be scheming.
The participle form is a very specific verb form that should never be over used. I argue and have argued that the only place for the participle form (-ing as a verb ending) should be in conversation (the present tense) or in action that is absolutely occurring at that moment in time while another action is happening. For example: he walked to the window while rubbing his sleepy eyes. On the other hand, let’s look at how we might modify the above sentences and talk about each.
The girl is running. In a novel, it is preferable to write, the girl ran. The point is the past tense. This sentence can easily become, the girl runs. The only reason to say she is running would be to indicate her action as an absolute simultaneous one. Since we don’t see this, the girl ran is preferable in a novel.
The woman was swimming. This can be easily replaced with, the woman swam. This is past tense and the correct tense for a novel.
He had been screaming. Generally, we want to shy away from the perfect tense as much as possible. Our first try at a substitution should be, he screamed. This might not fit the context of the verb, so, he had screamed, might be necessary. On the other hand, he had been screaming indicates an action in the past—if his action requires explanation, for example, he had been screaming and his voice sounded hoarse.
She has been cooking. This indicates the present tense and would be perfect in a conversation. For third person narrative, she had been cooking is preferable. She cooked is simpler. The context of the sentence determines the need for the participle.
The man will be scheming. This is future tense and indeed has a place in the narrative. There isn’t really a better way to express this with the words used. There is some ambiguity in the word scheme. Look it up, scheme can have an intransitive and a transitive meaning.
I also should point out that each of these verb forms don’t take an object (the accusative or dative). The participle form basically makes them intransitive.
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic